Basic Learning GuideMagic: the Gathering

Magic Basics: Main Phase To Cast Spells

The Main Phase is important because this is when you cast many of your spells. Cards such as Creatures, Planeswalkers, Artifacts, Enchantments, and Sorceries are cast in the Main Phase. You also play your Land for the turn in this phase. It’s so important that there are two Main Phases, one before the Combat Phase, and one after.

What Can You Do In The Main Phase?

Most spells in Magic: the Gathering (MTG) are cast during the Main Phase, simply because only Instant spells can be cast outside of it. This restriction is also called “sorcery speed.” Think of the Main phase as a building step, where you develop your presence on the battlefield, and activate abilities that you can’t at other times.

Similarly, abilities that say “this can only be used anytime you can cast a sorcery” means you can only use them during your Main Phases.

Play your land only during your Main Phase in MTG

On each of your turns, you can play one land to the battlefield. This can only be done during the Main phase, either before or after the Combat phase, so don’t forget to do it! Playing lands help you cast spells, thus if you miss one, it could easily change the tide of the game.

Why Are There Two Main Phases?

The 2 Main phases are often referred to Main Phase 1 and 2. Alternatively, they are called Pre-Combat or Post-Combat Main Phase.

The primary reason for having 2 Main Phases is to offer players the flexibility in casting their spells or using abilities. Very often, Combat decisions change depending on what happens during the Pre-Combat phase.

For example, imagine you have a 2/2 creature on the battlefield, and the opponent has a 1/3 creature. You want to get rid of the opponent’s creature because it can easily block your creature with no drawbacks.

You have a Direct Current in hand and that can help deal the additional damage to kill his/her creature. However, if you cast Direct Current in before combat, then logically the opponent will no longer use the 1/3 creature to block yours since it would result in its death.

With a 2nd Main Phase after combat, you can now cast Direct Current then. You are now free to attack with your 2/2 creature. If it is blocked, your Direct Current will finish it off. If it isn’t blocked, then you get to deal 2 damage.

When Should You Cast Spells In The 1st Main Phase?

You should cast spells or play abilities in the 1st Main Phase if it gives you an advantage in Combat.

Casting Empyrean Eagle in your first Main Phase allows you creatures to deal more damage in combat.

In this example, casting Empyrean Eagle gives a power and toughness boost to your flying creatures. This means they will potentially deal 2 extra damage to the opponent in combat. Playing the Eagle only in the 2nd Main Phase (after Combat) will mean you miss out on the extra damage.

Still confused? Check out our video for a live demonstration on Arena!

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Ted

After playing from Tempest to Urza's Saga block, Ted took a 20 year break from the game before returning to the classic Plane of Dominaria in 2018. His favourite formats are Commander, Draft, and, grudgingly, Standard.

Ted

After playing from Tempest to Urza's Saga block, Ted took a 20 year break from the game before returning to the classic Plane of Dominaria in 2018. His favourite formats are Commander, Draft, and, grudgingly, Standard.